Episode 411: Monsters, Mystery, and Multiple Timelines: Writing a Modern Horror Novel – Interview with Jennifer McMahon

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer McMahon. We’ll be talking about her genre-defying novel, The Children on the Hill.

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In this episode Jennifer McMahon and I discuss:

  • Why she had multiple false starts on her latest novel and what finally inspired her to finish.
  • How she developed the idea of secrets and her process for layering them throughout the plot.
  • What is a monster, what makes something monstrous, and why that distinction is important.

Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

About Jennifer McMahon

Jennifer McMahon has been lauded by Chris Bohjalian (The Flight Attendant) as “a worthy literary descendent of Shirley Jackson.” She is the author of eleven novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Promise Not to Tell and The Winter People. McMahon is in the LibraryReads Hall of Fame. She lives in Vermont with her partner, Drea, and their daughter, Zella.

You can find her on her website or follow her on Facebook and Instagram

The Children on the Hill

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer McMahon’s new novel, The Children on the Hill, is a haunting, modern horror story underpinned by deep humanity. Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, McMahon explores the eerie imaginings of childhood, the evils driven by alienation and unbridled ambition, and the strength it takes to stare down our demons.

1978: As founder of a renowned private treatment center in Vermont, psychiatrist Dr. Helen Hildreth is acclaimed for her compassionate work with the mentally ill and idolized by her grandchildren, Vi and Eric, whom she raises with attention and care. Then one day Gran brings home another child to stay with the family. 

Silent, hollow-eyed, skittish, and feral, Iris does not behave like a normal girl. Still, the children are thrilled to have a new playmate and invite her to join their Monster Club, where they catalogue all kinds of creatures and dream up ways to defeat them. Because, as Vi explains: Monsters are real. They’re all around us, whether we can see them or not.

2019: Lizzy Shelley, the host of the popular podcast Monsters Among Us, is investigating a young girl’s abduction and the rumored monster sighting that has a small town in an uproar. She’s determined to hunt it down, because Lizzy knows better than anyone that monsters exist — and one of them is her once-upon-a-time sister.

If you decide to check out the book, we hope you’ll do so via this Amazon affiliate link, where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Link to Episode 411

(Right-click to download.)

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